Friday, July 11, 2014

Brookies - Oh Yeah!

Before we knew about Ray's cancer, we both began seeing a homeopathic doctor in January. We wanted to feel better and thought we might be able to accomplish that by losing weight. We followed the Shape Reclaimed program under the guidance of this doctor. We both left the program before Ray's surgery. He had lost 30+ pounds and felt great. I had lost almost 20 pounds and felt good. About six weeks ago I went back on the program which in part is a very restricted diet - I wanted to drop my last 10 pounds. I am now feeling great and have also lost 30+ pounds. My very restricted diet ended two days ago. Yay!

Our now normal diet includes lots of vegetables, fruits, and some protein. Did I mention LOTS of vegetables?! We can eat anything we want but we try to limit sugars, starches, and most grains.

During the last few months, I have collected and tried many new recipes - mostly for vegetables. I think I mentioned that we eat LOTS of vegetables! There was this one recipe though that looked so good that I had to try it today - it is a really good treat. BROOKIES are part brownies and part chocolate chip cookies.

I found the recipe at Mel's Kitchen Cafe. You can find it there too! 

I also baked a couple kinds of zucchini bread today - a couple of those bigger zucchinis were begging me to make them into bread instead of a stir fry.   Most of the bread is headed for the freezer along with the brookies. Does zucchini bread count as a vegetable???

Wish you were here to enjoy our treats and the wonderful aromas in our house today!

Kitchen is done - sort of!

Before Ray's cancer surgery, he kept busy trying to clean up all the little jobs that had been put off and some big ones. At one time we had talk about redoing our kitchen. All of a sudden, we were making decisions and within a week, everything was set for our 'new' kitchen! The cabinets would be refaced in hickory. 
The old peninsula.
In early June I totally move out of the kitchen. That was a good thing after 25 years. Lots of things went to the garage sale pile and some went to the pantry shelves in the basement. Everything else just hung-out in the dining room.

On June 6, the builders refaced our cabinets and installed new doors, new drawers and new shelves. The lower shelves now all pull out. The cabinets and drawers are all soft-closing. We had to change a bank of 4 drawers to 3 drawers in order to get the raised panel on the drawer fronts. I was concerned about losing my spice drawer so they built me a special insert in one drawer for my spices!
Refaced cabinets and new granite countertop.
Less than a week later, we had new granite countertops and a huge new egranite sink. I love the size and the depth. The two sinks have a low divide so big pans fit down in the sink.

New sink.
The following week, the backsplash was in place and grouted. We wanted rather neutral colors but I love the gray/blue in the glass tiles. It really goes with the blue paint. In the future about any color will look great with it.

The blue on the walls is a steel blue, not very bright.

I moved back into the kitchen and I love it. The appliances will be replaced as needed, probably in stainless steel.

The only problem is that the floor doesn't go with the kitchen at all. Ugh! The first floor of our home is partly an open concept and that means that when you redo flooring, you redo ALL flooring at the same time. We were going to wait a year or two but are now rethinking that decision. We are also trying to figure out what we want - oh, I hate this kind of decisions!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A pinwheel finish!

I was going to make a disappearing pinwheel block - just a sample so I'd remember the block. After making one pinwheel block, I decided not to cut it up. I would just make a baby quilt because I didn't have a lot of the white dotted background fabric and I really liked the brightness. 

So I made 5 blocks and then realized that I was running out of the background fabric. So I played with the blocks on my design wall and came up with this layout. I used all of the dotted white background fabric and all of the turquoise sashing fabric. In fact the sashing fabric is pieced in a couple of places because I didn't have enough to cut the needed pieces.

After finally getting the quilt pieced, I had to decide how to quilt it. A few days earlier I saw that Leah Day had free-motion quilted a pinwheel with straight lines and a snaking line. So I decided to try that. I started free-handing the lines. Then I decided to try to use a guide ruler My paper piecing rulers worked really well. The lines on the green were free-handed without rulers.

The 'solid' color pieces of each pinwheel have straight lines going towards the center and the background/dot pieces have a snaking line with rounded ends.

When the pinwheels were quilted, I had to decide what to do in the sashing. I tried river rocks once before with not a good outcome but I decided to try again.

The turquoise sashing looks too gray here.
It was much easier with my new quilting setup.

The turquoise sashing looks too gray here.
The turquoise on the front and this backing fabric which I absolutely love were purchased in January on our trip to North Carolina. I bought them to make a purse. Guess we'll just have to go back so I can get more!

I used a reversible binding. The binding on the back is yellow (see above) and the binding on the front is a turquoise with dots (see below).

This quilt is about 40" square and has Dream Poly batting.

I love that even though I started to make a sample block, I ended with a bright donation quilt.

Ray update: Ray has a new noseless bicycle seat and can ride his bike again!!! Yesterday was his first real ride since his surgery (he went 10 blocks the day before to try out the seat) and his first ride of 2014. He went almost 10 miles and loved every second! His recovery is going pretty well.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A summer sweater

I've been working on this sweater for a while. I bought the yarn in April before Ray's surgery so I'd have something to knit while he was in the hospital. Then after knitting a skein and a half, I decided the sweater was too big so I frogged the whole thing and started over! I've been working on it most days and have finally finished it.

Yay - it fits!

The yarn is Bamboo Pop - 50% cotton and 50% bamboo sports weight. A great weight for summer.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Creamsicle lap quilt finished!

After I made the table runner, I used some of the leftover fabric, Creamsicle Tonga Treats, to make this lap quilt. 

Some of the pieces were cut at 2 1/2" by 5" so I just cut lots of pieces that size and sewed them together.

Using my new quilting setup, I decided to quilt this with a square stipple. I always have trouble making square corners when I am free motion quilting. I still had some problems but overall I am pleased with the quilting. I think you can see the quilting better on the plain yellow back.

This quilt is about 40" X 45" and I used Dream Cotton for the batting.

I used a variety of the gray/blue leftover 2 1/2" strips for the binding. It's hard to see that the strips are different even when the quilt is in my hand!

I have no plans for this quilt so for now it will go on the donation pile.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

FMQ Improvements!

I have pinned the three smaller quilts in the pile waiting to be sandwiched. And two are quilted!!! I'm in the process of doing the binding by hand and then I'll share.

I want to show you my new quilting set up. After seeing a few people online using different ways to lift the quilt as they quilted, I decided I had to try it. I thought of many things but kept coming back to a background stand used for photography. 

You may recall that one of my husband's hobbies is photography. He wanted a background stand but decided to build one out of PVC pipe. I didn't think the PVC version was going to work for me so we hatched a plan. We would buy a stand and house it in my sewing room. When we travel or when he needs it, he can take it. And the PVC pipe won't be wasted - it already has a new use!

Photography Background Stand

This raises and lowers to whatever height needed. The width also adjusts. The guy at The Camera Company actually understood how I was going to use it and assured me that it could easily hold a quilt! 

Of course, I didn't think to take a photo when I had the stand up quite high. In fact I didn't take a picture while I was quilting at all - I just put this back by the machine when I finally got the camera!

You can see the clamps on the top. When I changed the position of the quilt, I often changed where the quilt was clamped. I got into a rhythm and it was really easy.

The best part is the ease of quilting with no drag. Wow! I can't believe how much my quilting improved!!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Fun Knitted Vest

In the last few months, I've been doing more knitting than quilting. Knitting is very easy to transport and requires no preparation on my part. It's been my go to craft during Ray's surgery and doctor appointments. 

I just finished a vest - the pattern is India Sweater Vest, designed by Beth Q. Beck and published by Cardiff Bay Handknits. The yarn is Gina by Plymouth.
Actually I finished it a while ago but just sewed the buttons on today.

This was my first time using self-striping yarn. Stripes don't match and my balanced Libra self will need to overcome a little discomfort!

A closeup of the front - interesting stitches and texture.

The back has a different texture.

A side seam - where the back meets the front.

Sorry the photos aren't the best - I just held my camera high above the counter and shot! Speaking of the counter, did you notice our brand new granite? The kitchen isn't quite finished but the counters are in and we have water again - yay!


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